With the 2021 season, I’m changing how I’m doing my starting pitcher streamers and daily matchup rankings.
Instead of being featured in the SP Roundup, I’ll be highlighting my SP streamer picks for today and tomorrow inside this article, while also introducing four tiers and adding notes to each table.
The four tiers are as follows:
Auto-Start – Just do it. Don’t overthink this, start the man.
Probably Start – I’m likely starting these arms, though I recognize there is more risk than we’d like there to be. Either it’s a tough matchup for a good pitcher or a weak lineup for a volatile arm.
Questionable Start – There are situations where I’d take the chance, either with strong enough upside on the ability side, or a poor offense that a pitcher could take advantage of.
Do Not Start – The reward is not worth the risk. Don’t do it.
Obviously, there will be circumstances where pitchers should move between teams for your situation specifically and these new tiers should act as a little more help than the straight table from last year.
Please keep in mind that streaming is far from a perfect play. In fact, if they work out over half the time, I’d consider it a success. These matchup rankings & streamer picks are going to be wildly different than the actual results through the year, so please, have sympathy before the scathing comments and tweets. I’m only trying to help!
Make sure to read the notes if you’re wondering why I’m favoring certain pitchers over others – I won’t get to everyone and hopefully I answer what questions you will have.
There is a second table for tomorrow’s starting pitcher matchups as well, helping everyone get a jump on their nightly pickups. Please note that these matchups are subject to change, though, and there will be times when I have the incorrect pitcher going. I thank you for your future understanding.
Finally, there are my streaming picks of the day, and please keep in mind that I am forced to pick a streamer every day. Those highlighted in Green are in the second tier and I’d roll with them everywhere. The most common are those in Yellow in the third tier and should be decent if you’re searching for something on a given day. Finally, those are Red are those I really don’t want to start (they are labeled as “Do Not Start”, after all) but have no other choice. Don’t stream these guys until you are truly desperate. A streaming pick is defined as “rostered in 20% or fewer leagues,” which really emphasizes the point that I’d be happy if over 50% of these worked. I could do the whole sub 30/40% rostered, but there’s no fun in that. You can use the rankings to realize who would be those picks, instead.
2021 Streamer Record: 77-57
Today’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- It’s ace day! We have plenty of fun games to watch on Wednesday, which means a guy like Lucas Giolito is shockingly #8 on the ranks as he faces the tough Jays offense. That’s just the way it is sometimes, I’d still very much start him.
- I elected to push Josiah Gray into the top tier, given a gorgeous matchup against the Marlins. He’s earned double-digit whiffs with each weapon in his arsenal at some point this season and has a great opportunity to pad his numbers in Miami.
- Keep in mind, Germán Márquez and Justin Steele are starting today after yesterday’s postponement. In other words, make sure Márquez is in your lineup.
- In the second tier, Tarik Skubal gets a lovely date against the Cardinals and could capitalize. Look for his changeup and slider to earn plenty of whiffs here.
- Taijuan Walker has added an extra tick to his heater as of late, making his 4 ER game against the Dodgers fall on the unfortunate side. I’d trust him to produce despite a matchup against the Giants.
- It’s the MLB debut of Edward Cabrera and I’d pick him up and start him against the Nationals, making him my streaming pick of the day (Update: He now has 28% rostership in Yahoo leagues). He comes with high velocity and legit strikeout upside as he’s already fully stretched out. The command is the only question and as long as he throws strikes, this should be a strong audition.
- I considered Austin Gomber for the second tier, though I am concerned about his recent pitch-mix changes. Gomber is at his best when he features his fastball roughly 30% of the time and we’ve seen plenty of 40-50% usage games return disappointment. Even against the Cubs, it could be trouble if he doesn’t shift back to his old ways.
- Continuing with the third tier, Zach Plesac has a fantastic chance to rebound as he gets the mediocre Rangers lineup. We’re searching for his slider and changeup to look like their 2020 selves and if one or both are there, it can spell success moving forward.
- I wouldn’t overlook Tyler Gilbert as an option against the Pirates, who becomes today’s streaming pick after everyone swarmed to pick up Cabrera since yesterday. The man threw a no-hitter after all, and the Pirates are a team that will get themselves out against Gilbert’s cutter.
- Blake Snell has a new approach and slowly regained the confidence of managers over the past few weeks. He gets his first big test in the Dodgers, though, and it makes for a high risk/reward situation. Adjust accordingly for your situation.
- We have a few “Toby” plays here as well with Zach Davies and Johnny Cueto. Neither inspire a whole lot of excitement from me, but I understand they can be decent against middling offenses.
- In the bottom tier, it looks like Ryan Yarbrough will go for the Rays as he faces the Phillies. I don’t think the ceiling is high enough to jump after that one, but those in SP/RP leagues could use the volume in the RP slot.
- It’s weird to see Spencer Howard at the bottom as he faces Cleveland, but he simply hasn’t had a long enough leash to put him above anyone else – each pitcher above him at least has the chance of going five frames.
Tomorrow’s Starting Pitcher Rankings
- After ace day, it’s a small top tier with Max Scherzer and Chris Sale acting as the only two definitive elite arms. Obviously start them, but keep an eye on Sale’s velocity and slider whiffs. We want a touch of improvement from last time.
- Alex Wood and Jameson Taillon are a little more debatable. I’d start both wherever I had them, with Wood’s skills looking legit (92 mph + slider whiffs) while Taillon has cruised for nearly two months and gets a middling Athletics offense. Put them in your lineups and don’t think twice.
- In the second tier, Sonny Gray gets a difficult matchup facing the hot Brewers offense in their hitter-friendly park. Gray improved his slider last time out, though, and it should propel a strong outing on Thursday.
- Yes, I’m THAT confident in Patrick Corbin. He sat 94 mph (not 91/92!) with slider whiffs last time out and he gets the Marlins. The Marlins! This is the start you’ve been waiting for.
- Continuing with the third tier, Zac Gallen and Yusei Kikuchi are at odd moments of their seasons. Gallen hasn’t found his cutter and changeup quite yet, but his fastball dominance makes him a worthy start against the Phillies. Probably. Meanwhile, Kikuchi is enduring a tough schedule and finally gets his respite, but we don’t know if he’ll respond well or pitch too battered to make the impact you want.
- Finally, there’s Elieser Hernandez as he faces the Nationals. His last outing wasn’t pretty, but moving from the bandbox that is Great American Ballpark to a date with the Nationals is more than welcome. He should help your teams.
- In the third tier, it looks like both Carlos Rodón and Yu Darvish are returning for their respective teams on Thursday. Rodón has a slightly easier matchup against the Jays (no Springer!) and doesn’t have as long of a history of struggling pre-injury like Darvish. For Yu, hopefully his rest resets him to pre-July times and he can excel out of the gate. It’s up to you to choose if you want to take the risk, I’d love to sit out for one start and regain confidence for their following outings.
- I was thrilled to see Hyun Jin Ryu find his changeup last start (10 whiffs!), but the ChiSox are plenty tougher than the Tigers. I completely understand if you’d rather not take the chance.
- The streaming pick of the day is Miles Mikolas as he eases back into the rotation with another start against the Pirates. The stuff isn’t overwhelming, but it’s good enough to go another 5+ frames of productive baseball.
- I don’t want to ignore what Brad Keller is doing – leaning heavily on a solid breaker + sitting 94 mph with fastballs. It’s close to a “BSB” with his approach and the Mariners aren’t a team to fear. This could work.
- In the bottom tier, Carlos Carrasco has yet to get comfortable with his changeup and slider and the Giants offense is too intimidating to take the chance. He does get a much better schedule after this, though, and let’s hope there’s a sign for improvement here that we can lean on moving forward.
- Zach Eflin returns from the IL and tossed just 31 pitches in his last rehab start. That’s an easy “Still ILL” for you to avoid.
- I won’t rule out Mitch Keller having a solid performance against the Cardinals. He had his best outing in a long time last time out as dominated with heaters and the Cardinals don’t instill fear.
- There’s a shot that Jordan Lyles can have his best slider and performs against Cleveland. I don’t love it (at all), but there are worse gambles to make.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Design by Quincey Dong (@threerundong on Twitter)